Not many would know that initially he was a gentle mediumpacer who occasionally induced an edge before shifting his focus to batting.
Hyderabad: Anecdotes flowed in abundance on a thrilling Thursday evening as VVS Laxman released his very, very special autobiography aptly titled ‘281 And Beyond’ at a city hotel here. Emotion was aplenty as the former Indian batsman recounted his journey to the top of the cricketing world amidst people who had been instrumental in his career.
In conversation with co-commentator Harsha Bhogle, Laxman had the select audience in rapt attention and occasionally in splits while speaking of the 21-chapter book, published by Westland.
Not many would know that initially he was a gentle mediumpacer who occasionally induced an edge before shifting his focus to batting. He went on to aggregate 11,119 runs in the 134 Tests and 86 One-Day Internationals, his most famous knock being the 281 against Australia at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2001 that turned the match, series and fortunes of Indian cricket around.
But it was the whirlwind 167 — his first international century — against the same opposition away in Sydney a year ago that is a tad closer to him. “In four years of playing for India (since his debut in 1996), I never had scored a century and so deep down that knock is closer,” he said, adding, “That innings gave me the confidence and belief that I could play at the highest level. It removed all doubts and apprehensions from my mind.”
Surprisingly, “the 281 didn’t surprise me.”
“After the 167, the mindset with which I approached games was different. I had prepared well and was mentally prepared to bat long,” he explained.
At this juncture, Laxman thanked national athletics coach N. Ramesh of Hyderabad who now trains sprinter Dutee Chand, for the physical fitness. “I never felt tired after batting for two days (for his 281 at Eden),” he said.
Laxman also thanked the role of seniors from Hyderabad in his upward journey. He said former Test cricketer Arshad Ayub, for whose club Ensconse he played in the local league, pushed him hard. “I was looking at playing for the Hyderabad U-16 side and perhaps the South Zone when Arshad bhai motivated me with lines like ‘Look at what Sachin Tendulkar is doing at 16.’
Laxman also mentioned guidance from late M. L. Jaisimha (as Hyderabad coach) and help from former Test cricketer from Hyderabad S. L. Venkatapathy Raju, with whose bats he scored the 167 as well as 281. “He was a generous senior, as us Hyderabadis would say — dildaar. Those were the days I had no sponsorship with the sports goods manufacturing firms. If I liked an accessory, he would just say ‘keep it,’” Laxman informed.